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Day 1: Introduction to Stockholm

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We arrived in Stockholm Arlanda at midday and went into the city in a large taxi that carried us all. Our two Swedes were staying with relatives, all others had booked rooms in Hotel Colonial not far from the central station. After moving into our hotel rooms we set out onto our first walk.

We were all eager to see the city but most of all we were hungry after an early morning departure from home. So our knowledgeable friend took us to the market hall and food court for lunch. Hötorgshallen, just off Hötorget and Sergelgatan in the centre of the City's shopping district (http://www.hotorgshallen.se/), is a market hall with many many themed shops and stalls selling food specialities from all over the world. Many, especially those in the basement, also offer prepared food to eat right there or take away. For a quick lunch there is plenty of choice and a wide variety of cuisines. Seating is limited to some stools at the bar, or standing tables.

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We were of course after Swedish food. We found a stall run by two very cute young people, a guy and a girl, that offered meat and fish dishes. Everything was fresh and neatly arranged. I had venison meatballs (forgot the correct term, Swedes will know what I mean), others had fish dishes. All very tasty! For a drink we had fresh natural apple juice, also very good.

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The market hall is close to the series of five highrise buildings along Sveawägen and Sergelgatan, the pedestrianized street between Sergels Torg and Hötorget. These modern buildings are part of a large project to rebuild and refurbish the city centre in the 1950s. The highrises were erected between 1952 and 1956. At that time the functionalist style and multi-storey buildings were still a rather new thing in Europe. The grid patterns of the facades are a characteristic feature of functionalist architecture and might appear boring. A comparison of the five individual buildings and a view from a distance reveal, though, that these are very cleverly designed. Each building has a different pattern, so that from a distance (as in the second photo, which is a zoom view from Monteliusvägen on Södermalm) they appear as a series in gradual shades of grey. The facades are reflecting, an optical effect which dissolves the huge rectangular shapes. All in all, a remarkable example of early functionalism.

Boat cruise „Under the Bridges“

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The boat tour „Under the Bridges“ was the first thing we did in the afternoon of our arrival day. Our Swedish friend and organizer suggested it in order to give us an idea and impression of the city and its townscape.

A purpose which it successfully fulfilled.

The cruise runs for almost two hours and took us through lakes and bays around several islands, through two locks and under no idea how many bridges.

You get an idea of the city’s layout, the correlation of topography and urbanistics, of landscape and architecture, and the individual characters of the different quarters and islands.

The comment is available in a dozen or so languages over headphones at each seat.

The seats are comfy and there was more than one passenger who dozed off…

I decided to restrain myself from the comment and rather be on the move to take photos. I spent most time outside in the back, but it was cold and windy so every now and then I had to slip back indoors to warm up.

A hot coffee and a very tasty chocolate muffin from the cafeteria counter helped to keep my spirits up!

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Bridges of Stockholm

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I have read some bad reviews about this tour on the web and I have to admit that some points of criticism are justified: The layout of the boat will not allow those who have the middle seats to see much of the views because of the low, closed roof and the distance to the windows. Even from a window seat you see only one side. The major part of the boat is indeed indoors, only a small part in the back is outdoors and this has a (canvas) roof, too. However, we were lucky as the boat had no more than maybe 25-30 people on board, 10 of which belonged to our party. That meant an abundant choice of window seats and room to move around to one’s liking. Had the weather been sunny this might have been different.

So what I’d recommend doing is this: Board the boat at the first point of departure at Kungsträdgården, not at the second one in Nybrohamnen, in order to be among the first passengers boarding. Be there in time. Weather permitting, sit outside in the back. If the weather is not cooperating, try to grab a window seat.

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Information sheet with a map of the route at my seat
More information:http://www.stromma.se/de/Stockholm/Sightseeing/Sightseeing-by-boat/Under-the-Bridges-of-Stockholm/

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The whole port can be viewed like a ship museum. The ships, steamers and ferries that tour the waters of Stockholm are often historical vessels, 100 or more years old. The small steamboats that do the passenger lines are particularly cute. More old ships, sailboats, fishing boats are lined up along the quays, some in good shape and ready to depart, others obviously awaiting renovation.

It is so hard to decide upon which photos to use, there are so many interesting vessels…

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The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes, famous for his ascetic lifestyle, has at least one fan and heir in Stockholm, it seems. This here could well have been Diogenes's houseboat. I think in the nordic climate even he would have consented to equip his barrel with an oven.
I spotted this funny houseboat on the northern bank of Langeholmen island.

Tunnelbanen

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We were also introduced to Stockholm’s underground network, the Tunnelbanen. We received electronic cards loaded with a weekly ticket that our friend had organized, so we could ride the underground as much as we wanted.

Tunnelbanen is not only the fastest public transport through the city. Going by Tunnelbanen is also sightseeing.

The stations of Stockholm’s underground are sights themselves. Many of them, especially those in the centre, have been designed by artists and refer to a certain topic and/or the location. Take your time to have a look at them. Running after underground trains is a waste of energy anyway since they run so frequently. Sometimes it makes sense to miss one on purpose in order to have time to look round the station.

I particularly liked the blue tunnels of T-Centralen with their rocky structure and vegetabile ornaments – not only because blue is one of my favourite colours.

Here are a few random examples that we passed through. I am sure there are many more discoveries awaiting Tunnelbanen passengers.

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Kungsträdgården has elements of the park above, with sculptures, grottoes and baroque railings.
In Slussen they have abstract murals.
Rådmansgatan station (sorry no photo) is dedicated to the author August Strindberg.

Posted by Kathrin_E 23:56 Archived in Sweden

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Comments

Some nice boating pictures here Kathrin.
I would love to visit Sweden one day.
xx

by aussirose

I once spent a very chilly February day in Stockholm and would love to go back. The market sounds great and orienting yourself with the boat tour an excellent idea. Good that you had people with local knowledge to guide you too :-)

by ToonSarah

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